DRCNetDrug Reform Coordination Network


Sentencing Reform '95 -- Your Help Requested

The new Republican Congress has hit the ground running, so it's time for DRCNet to do the same. This bulletin requests your action on two items.

1) CRIME BILL -- The new crime bill now in the Senate guts the "safety- valve" provision from the last crime bill and imposes new mandatory minimum sentences. The new mandatory minimums are:

[Note: DRCNet is devoted to drug policy reform and takes no position on gun policy. We have listed the gun-related sentences in the Senate crime bill for completeness and because they can apply to drug or drug-related offenses.]

The bill would also make the safety-valve so narrow that few if any people will qualify. (The safety-valve is a provision of last year's crime bill that allows judges the discretion to exempt certain first-time offenders from 5 or 10 year mandatory minimums.)

Please write, fax or call your two Senators and your Representative;
ask them to oppose new mandatory minimums and to oppose any weakening of the safety-valve.

Addresses for any member of Congress:

        The Honorable {Your Senator}    The Honorable {Your Representative} 

        United States Senate    House of Representatives

        Washington, DC 20510    Washington, DC 20510

You can reach them on the phone (or find out who they are) through
the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Please also contact the following members of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

                                        phone                   fax 

        Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)         (202) 224-5251          224-6331 

        Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY)        (202) 224-3424          224-1315 

        Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA)       (202) 224-4254          N/A 

        Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC)      (202) 224-5972          224-1300

Some points for your letters:

The Republican majority is promising to move swiftly on a new crime bill, so please write soon.

2) SENTENCING COMMISSION AMENDMENTS -- Please write to the US Sentencing Commission in support of the following three proposed amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines:

#37: Marijuana -- changes the plant-weight ratio to 1 plant = 100 grams. (Currently 1 plant is considered 100 grams for 49 plants or fewer, but becomes 1 kilo [1000 grams] for 50 plants or more.)

#38: Crack Cocaine -- reduces the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. Currently 1 gram of crack is considered equivalent to 100 grams of powder cocaine. Please tell the commission you think the ratio should be 1:1 at the current level of powder cocaine.

Methamphetamine -- Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), a sentencing reform advocacy group, has proposed an amendment that would exclude the weight of waste-water left over from the methamphetamine production process when calculating weight in sentencing. No amendment number is available yet.

Letters must be received by March 7th to be considered in the Sentencing Commission's deliberations. Send them to:

U.S. Sentencing Commission
One Columbus Circle NE
South Lobby, 2-500
Washington, D.C. 20002

[For more information on mandatory minimums and the federal sentencing guidelines contact Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20004, (202) 457-4790, fax: (202) 457-8564. Get updates from the FAMM hotline, (703) 685-6860.]

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